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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2014 Movies: We Should All Just Believe In Ourselves

Lords of Dogtown (2005) Catherine Hardwicke

Kind of a strange experience, I think. The movie is pretty cohesive, but I'm trying to remember what exactly happened and it all sort of feels like a dream. Everyone talks with these very strange affectations, and it's just kind of distracting because I've heard all of these guys speak in the Dogtown and Z-Boys documentary. I've heard what they sound like and it certainly isn't anything like whatever Emile Hirsch was trying to do. Just seemed like a strange choice, and even Heath Ledger just barely pulls it off. My main problem with this movie is a similar problem I had with Stacy Peralta's Z-Boys: I just didn't feel like I had any idea who Stacy Peralta was when he was skating. This is especially a problem with this movie, considering he's one of the main characters. The plot about Stacy Peralta not being initially accepted by the Z-Boys crew feels like it was made to service the movie drama, as I'm pretty sure no one on the Z-Boys had anything against him aside from the usual competitive trash talk between good buddies, but then again we didn't learn too much about Stacy Peralta in Dogtown and Z-Boys either, did we? I think I would be really into seeing a movie about this crew and this era made by somebody who isn't Stacy Peralta. He may be too close to his material, and he increasingly seems to me like he's more interested in protecting the legacy of his crew instead of giving us a true look at these people. It's understandable, but I just want to know who Stacy Peralta, is I guess. I want to know who all of these people are.

Magic Camp (2012) Judd Ehrlich

A documentary about Teen Magicians going to a week-long Magic Camp. It's not as fun as J Clay Tweel's Make Believe, but Magic Camp feels a bit weightier, focusing on some real problems in these teens' lives and even problems in the magic community. It's good and it's manipulative, but it does make you do a little bit of work in that most of the kids' problems aren't explicitly stated and you have to kind of make your own inferences. However, it's not a lot of work since all the clues and all the signifiers of teens with problems are right there in front of you. (There's a joke about misdirection here, I think, but what kind of monster do you think I am to subject you to that?) All that work you're doing to figure out each kids' story inevitably translates to worrying about these kids, particularly the one kid who dropped out of high school to do magic. When we meet him, we see his act and it's pretty impressive, but then we find out that he just dropped out of high school to pursue a career in magic, and then we see him do the act again, and it becomes much less impressive as the movie goes on, particularly when all the teachers are pointing out how he's just kind of coasting by with minimal effort, and when he spends most of the movie talking about how he doesn't have an ending for his act and he doesn't seem to be actively bouncing ideas around for his big finish. The movie ends with him getting a job delivering groceries to old people or something, and it's just worrisome watching this kid's life get derailed because he believes in magic.  
Then there's the girl who's being held back by some of the teachers because they think that girls should only be assistants and not magicians. She's frustrated because she's at this point in her fascination with magic where she's realizing that magic as an industry suffers from a deeply rooted sense of misogyny. It's sad to watch, but I guess ultimately not as worrisome as the high school dropout since that girl's probably going to be fine. She's going to get her drivers license and realize that magic sucks and weed is cool and then she'll fuck around with improv for a few years and probably have sex with other improvisors and like one guy who's too old for her and then she'll move on and get really into twitter or something, I don't know. My point is that she'll be fine, she seems like she's smart enough to figure out it's time to bail when you realize even your dumb dorky self is (and always has been) too cool to hang out with teenage boy magicians.

Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) J.J. Abrams

I don't think I'd seen anything with Benedict Cumberbatch aside from tumblr memes, so it was kind of exciting to see what all the fuss is about I guess. Oh wait! I think he was in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy? I can't remember what he did in that movie, but I remember liking that movie a bunch. It was just so slow and British, but in a good, compelling way. Anyway, I'm obviously stalling here as I try to remember what happened in Star Trek: Into Darkness, but I think I was fine with it? I remember finishing the movie and thinking "Oh, well I guess it wasn't as bad as everyone said it was supposed to be." I don't know. The action bits were pretty exciting, I guess, but overall it just felt like a joyless retread. Every character seems to have learned nothing from the previous movie, so we get to see them go through the same character arc again, but like with thirty percent more scowling. The fun of it just seems to have been sucked out, which is disappointing because I think that previous one did a good job of conveying that feeling of reckless space adventuring that you'd expect from a dickhead captain jock and his crew. Oh I did like Peter Weller as that hawkish Starfleet commander. As Peter Weller's gotten older, he's gotten to look more like an evil version of Patrick McGoohan, and I think that's awesome.
BONUS! A fun game that Tessa made up: whenever Karl Urban is onscreen, hold up your hands so that the top half of his face is covered, and pretend Judge Dredd is yelling at Chris Pine.

The Countess (2009) Julie Delpy

Kind of boring for a movie about the Blood Countess, which is a shame. The violence is pretty shocking and gruesome, but the rest of the movie is such a slough that it makes seeing peasant girls getting put into Iron Maidens just seem like a desperation move to keep our interest. Oh, I guess one neat thing is learning how much the story of the Blood Countess influenced the bad guys' devices at the end of Blade? (I'm like half joking about that.)

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